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Nomar to rest for three weeks03/31/2004 4:08 PM ET
By Ian Browne / MLB.com
FORT MYERS, Fla. -- His ailing right Achilles tendon not responding as quickly as he hoped, star Red Sox shortstop Nomar Garciaparra will open the season on the 15-day disabled list.
In fact, the Sox announced Wednesday that Garciaparra won't participate in any baseball activity for the next three weeks.
While the Red Sox open their season Sunday night in Baltimore, Garciaparra will be cheering his mates on from his television.
Instead of playing shortstop and batting cleanup, Garciaparra's focus will be to eliminate the tendintis and inflammation in his Achilles that has limited him to a mere eight at-bats during Spring Training.
The ultimate competitor, Garciaparra admitted that it will be tough watching the team open the season without him.
"Absolutely, it's going to be horrible," said Garciaparra. "It's going to drive me crazy. Going up to Boston, I'll be sitting on my couch an awful lot, that's what the doctor ordered, a lot of rest and sitting on my couch. It will definitely be hard. But I'll definitely be cheering them on and keeping in contact, and when they're in town, definitely seeing them every day."
If things go well over the next three weeks, Garciaparra would then embark on a minor league rehab assignment and perhaps rejoin the Red Sox by early May.
"I think it would be irresponsible for me to put an exact date or timetable on it, but again, it's going to be a three-week program of rest and rehab," said Red Sox general manager Theo Epstein. "If that goes well, by the third week we'll be incorporating real running, and other activities as we see as a ramp up to playing in games. If that three-week program goes well, then he'd eventually be looking at a minor league rehab stint. I think that's the more appropriate time to be speculating when he'll be back in big league games."
With Garciaparra out of the mix off the bat, the Sox will open their season with starting second baseman Pokey Reese moving to shortstop and reserve Mark Bellhorn playing second base.
DH David Ortiz will take over Garciaparra's cleanup spot.
"He's one of the better players in the league," said Red Sox manager Terry Francona. "I feel bad for him too, he's such a competitive kid. But it's the right thing to do and for our ballclub. Let him get better and then we'll bring him back and happily throw him right back in that cleanup spot."
The Sox will open the season without two of their key everyday players, as right fielder Trot Nixon (herniated disc) is scheduled to be out until early May.
Garciaparra began experiencing discomfort in his Achilles heel after being struck by a ball during batting practice on March 5.
He played intermittently after that, but shut it down for good following the March 17 game against the Indians.
After an MRI exam on March 18 revealed mild tendinitis, Garciaparra hoped he could make it back for the start of the season.
But that possibility, which was dwindling the last few days, officially ended Wednesday.
"I don't like missing more time than I anticipated," said Garciaparra, "but the good thing is we know we have a structured program to be able to talk to all the doctors and get everyone on the same page, and it's like, all right, this is the best way we can attack this so I can get it out of there as quick as possible."
The Red Sox announced the plan for Garciaparra after he met with Dr. Mark Slovenkai, a foot and ankle specialist from New England Baptist Hospital in Boston.
Garciaparra will fly back to Boston on Thursday to begin his treatment program.
"He's had a continued Achilles tendinitis," said Red Sox team doctor Bill Morgan. "We're going to be real conservative. He's going to go through three weeks of rehab. Nomar and I will meet up weekly and reevaluate the process and hopefully get in some baseball activity after that three-week period of time, depending on how his symptoms are at that point."
The Red Sox, the doctors and Garciaparra were all confident that the injury won't linger once he returns to action.
"There's nothing to lead me to believe that it's going to be anything but getting [the inflammation] out, and when it's out, I'm ready to go," Garciaparra said.
"It's similar to Trot's situation, the whole point of an aggressive rest and rehab routine like this is to knock the injury out," said Epstein. "It's a long season. It's a long career. We want to make sure we put this behind us so it doesn't become chronic."
While he won't be able to swing a bat or take grounders for the next three weeks, Garciaparra will stay active.
"The good thing is I can still exercise in a sense where I'll still be working out, lifting, keeping my body in shape," he said. "That's not going to stop. When I am ready to resume baseball activity, the rest of my body will be ready to do that. It's just a matter of the Achilles being ready to do that because the rest of me will be."
Meanwhile, the rest of the Sox will do their best to pick up the sizable slack left by Garciaparra and Nixon.
"There's nothing you can do about it," Ortiz said. "It's a tough situation because you're talking about two key players, but when you have a situation like that, what you need to do is hang with it and hopefully they get back soon."
This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.